Fans excited as Michael Porter Jr. returns to the Tigers
COLUMBIA - It was the moment Tiger basketball fans have been waiting three months for finally arrived. Michael Porter Jr. returned from injury.
The superstar freshman struggled in his first game since Nov. 10, scoring 12 points on 5-17 shooting in 23 minutes. He also chipped in 8 rebounds coming off the bench.
Despite jumping out to a 10-0 lead, Missouri lost to Georgia 62-60 in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday.
Fans throughout Columbia were eager to see what Porter Jr. could do.
"I'm really excited. He's kind of been this figment of the imagination," MU student Brian Huch said.
Columbia resident Ethan Moss said, "I'm really excited, it's not everyday you get the number one recruit in the nation."
John Rice, also of Columbia, said he's intrigued by Porter Jr.'s potential.
"I think he can be a difference maker," Rice said.
He wasn't the only one who couldn't wait to see what Porter Jr. can do on the floor.
"I'm kind of interested to see how he fits into the team, but I think he'll make a big difference from beyond the ark," Huch said.
Moss said the Tigers' head coach, Cuonzo Martin, has a happy dilemma with Porter Jr.
"He can play any position. I'm excited to see where Cuonzo 's going to put him," Moss said.
Some fans said they believe Porter Jr.'s play will only be a part of the team's success, not the driving force.
"I don't think he will carry the team. I think he'll put a shoulder to the wheel with everyone else though," Rice said.
Moss said, "I don't know if it's going to be him taking this team, I think it's going to be a whole group effort."
How Porter Jr. plays could have an impact on the Tigers NCAA tournament success.
"This makes Missouri, I believe, a dangerous mystery in the tournament," Rice said.
Some fans believe that mystery could put Missouri over the top.
"I think we can win it all," Moss said.
Huch said, "We're going all the way."
[Editor's note: this story has been updated to include Thursday's results against Georgia.]